The strange case of beaver return in Italy: origins and management
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Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology University of Turin
SIEF - Società Italiana di Ecopatologia della Fauna
Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Ferrara
Zoology Section of the Friulian Natural History Museum, Udine
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Sassari
Muse, Science museum of Trento
ISPRA, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research
CNR - Research Institute on Terrestrial Ecosystems (IRET)
Dipartimento Bioscienze e Territorio, Università del Molise
Department of Theoretical and Applied Sciences, Università degli Studi dell'Insubria
Online publication date: 2023-12-31
Publication date: 2023-12-31
Corresponding author
Sandro Bertolino   

Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology University of Turin
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2023;34(2):84-91
The Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) became extinct in Italy between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century. A few animals were recorded at the border with Austria in 2018 and 2020. Between 2021 and 2023, beavers were reported in six Central and Southern Italy areas at more than 350-400 km from the nearest colonies. Following an official position by the Italian Mammal Society, this paper aims to explore the possible origin of these nuclei, suggests their removal and provide an analysis of the concerns and management recommendations. Given the distances between beaver locations in Central and Southern Italy and the rapid appearance of numerous small nuclei with few individuals in just a couple of years, the most plausible explanation is multiple unlawful releases. Unplanned and unauthorised reintroductions are unacceptable in terms of a sound wildlife management approach and represent a dangerous precedent stimulating further unlawful release of mammals. Therefore, we urge competent authorities to remove these animals from the field.
The idea of this paper comes from a workshop organised by the Italian Mammal Society (ATIt - Associazione Teriologica Italiana) in 2021 in Rome. It reflects the discussion in the workshop and the following Position paper ( that represent the official position of ATIt on the presence of the Eurasian beaver in Central and Southern Italy. We are grateful to Emiliano Mori, who provided the coordinates of beavers’ nuclei recorded in Tuscany and Umbria. Thanks also to those who attended the workshop organized by ATIt. We acknowledge the contribution of two anonymous referees to the first draft of the manuscript.
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